As Brett Favre's breathtaking deep ball soared through the thin Colorado air Monday night, football fans everywhere but the Rockies were sky-high with the expectation that the 38-year-old quarterback was producing yet another unforgettable thrill.
But shortly after Packers wideout Greg Jennings raced into the end zone to complete the 82-yard hookup on the first play of overtime, it was time to get grounded and consider the ramifications of Green Bay's 19-13 victory over the Broncos.
First, how impressive is the Packers' defense? Led by linebacker Nick Barnett and cornerback Charles Woodson, Green Bay limited a Broncos team that had put up 31 on the Steelers the previous week to a touchdown and a pair of field goals, surviving a late drive on which Denver was four yards from victory. The defenses of the Cowboys and Giants get more attention, but among the NFC's top contenders, the Pack's might actually be the best of the three.
Secondly, while Favre's two scoring bombs led the highlight packages, did anyone happen to notice that a first-year player named Ryan Grant ran 22 times for 104 yards? If the Packers suddenly have a running game to go with their majestically revived quarterback, this could be a very good offense when the weather turns and the games get big.
1. New England Patriots: If they get up on Indy late, will Bill Belichick try to run up the score?
2. Indianapolis Colts: What if Tony Dungy – gasp – runs it up on the Pats?
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: How automatic is this team in the state of Ohio?
6. Green Bay Packers: Can you name five more memorable Brett Favre passes than the one he threw to beat the Broncos?
7. New York Giants: All things considered, isn't Tom Coughlin the obvious frontrunner for Coach of the Year?
10. Detroit Lions: Where did this team suddenly get its toughness, and why do I keep thinking I may have underestimated Rod Marinelli?
11. Baltimore Ravens: Yo, Ray Lewis – after criticizing Brian Billick's play-calling and calling former teammate Adalius Thomas a "coward," perhaps you should consider channeling that rage into a transcendent performance in Pittsburgh Monday night?
13. Washington Redskins: Did Joe Gibbs once brush past young Bill Belichick at a coaches' convention?
17. New Orleans Saints: For a guy whose highly regarded team lost its first four games, Sean Payton never seemed overly stressed, did he?
18. Carolina Panthers: That "Return of Vinny" story was a heartwarming short subject, wasn't it?
19. Denver Broncos: Do you think Mike Shanahan would like to have that quarterback-draw call on their last possession back, or what?
23. Houston Texans: How did this team that looked so promising at the start of the season degenerate into such a mess?
24. Buffalo Bills: Can they play the Jets every week?
26. Minnesota Vikings: Hey, Brad Childress – after you chose to go into a season without a quarterback, what did you expect?
28. Atlanta Falcons: Can Brian Brohm really be as great as Bobby Petrino believes he is, and could this franchise be any more shameless about tanking a season to enhance its chances of landing him?
30. San Francisco 49ers: When your banged-up quarterback has to rally the troops in garbage time to exceed 200 total yards for the third time in seven games, how bleak are your offensive prospects?
31. St. Louis Rams: Never mind the blackout; can you believe 62,777 people actually showed up to watch this putrid team last Sunday?
32. Miami Dolphins: When Wayne Huizenga announced that the Crown Jewels would be on display during that fabulous team party he threw at the Tower of London last Friday, did Cam Cameron instinctively reach for his groin?